I’m never going to move to Paris.
It just hit me that I’ll never live in a garret in Montmartre, spending my days painting and my nights discussing Existentialism over wine and croissant. The chances were always slim. If you haven’t run away from home by age 52, it probably isn’t going to happen. But at least there was a possibility. No more.
I’m going to be stuck in this small, midwestern town until I shrivel up and die.
What was the last nail in the coffin of my dreams?
Meet the new treasurer of the church cemetery board.
The treasurer of the church cemetery board cannot be hot – unthinkable! She cannot be glamorous or exotic – perish the thought! She cannot be scintillating, fiendishly clever or risqué – heaven forbid! No, the person who allows herself to be bamboozled into this position is a worthy sort. This woman has cast off girlish dreams of fame and fortune, and has settled for the slightly lesser glory of having the best Chicken Tetrazzini recipe in the parish (the secret is whisking butter into the sauce at the last minute.)
She’s the Church Lady, clad in orthopedic shoes, cardigan sweater and righteousness.
“How did they trap you?” You ask. “Did they promise riches? Was it blackmail?”
They played the cruelest trick of all. Somebody asked me. To my face! How could I say no? I have no excuse, and they know it. I can just imagine how this came about.
I’ve always tried to keep a low profile in church. I keep my head down, don’t sing too loudly and just go with the flow. That way nobody tags me to join the choir, teach kids their psalms, or head up some fund raising committee. After all, I work full time and I have 2 kids – c’mon, I’m busy! This technique has worked fine for me. Until now.
It seems I underestimated our cagey pastor. He probably had me on his mental reserve list, waiting in the bullpen until the time was right to call me up. I can practically see the moment his eagle eye, descending from the pulpit mid-sermon, happened upon my slightly glazed-over, slack-jawed face in the pew below. It hit him: empty nester. Bingo!
“The girls are up and out; it’s just Peg and Bill now. She’s in business so she probably knows about paying bills and taxes and such. And she’s doing squat for this church besides taking up space.” Father sicced his minions on me.
Nobody has to tell me that this is a life sentence. This kind of gig makes a Supreme Court appointment look like a temp job. The only way out is death.
It’s like that Indiana Jones movie where they find the Holy Grail. An ancient knight had been guarding it for 500 years. He was just waiting until his replacement showed up so he could hand off the chalice, turn into a dusty skeleton and blow away.
That will be me.
At the changing of the guard ceremony, the current Knight Templar will give me the checkbook and quill, then her face will dissolve and turn to dust. I will kneel in her place, guarding the cemetery’s finances for all of eternity. Unless I luck out and turn senile before then. Then it will be my turn to choose my successor and pass on the responsibility.
I should look on the bright side; being on the cemetery committee does have its perks. I’ll get a discount on a prime gravesite. After all, when I retire from this job they’ll need someplace to bury my chain mail.